An unremarkable father-daughter bonding story in a remarkable setting.

GENIUS JOLENE

Jolene accompanies her trucker dad on a job to Los Angeles.

It’s time for Jolene’s annual adventure with her dad—she has been making long-haul trips with him since she was 4. She loves camping out in the cab, eating road-stop food, and being together on the road—just the two of them. For this trip, she’s looking forward to rating onion rings together. Things are different this trip, though, because in the last year her parents got divorced when Jolene’s dad came out as gay. She now alternates weeks living with her mom in their old apartment and with her dad in the new apartment he shares with his boyfriend, Joey. These are big changes, but unfortunately, the author doesn’t dive deep into how Jolene is feeling about them, and it seems like a missed opportunity for exploration of identity and feelings as well as a way to model emotional communication in difficult situations. Grayscale illustrations every few pages help pace new chapter-book readers through the story. The text contains no reference to race or ethnicity for Jolene and her parents; the illustrations show a freckle-faced Jolene with brown skin while her mom has dark skin and her dad has white skin. Joey is Coast Salish, and there is an explanation of what “Indigenous” means but not much further exploration of this identity either. Backmatter includes recipes for onion rings, aioli, and spruce-tip syrup.

An unremarkable father-daughter bonding story in a remarkable setting. (Fiction. 6-8)

Pub Date: April 7, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4598-2529-1

Page Count: 112

Publisher: Orca

Review Posted Online: Jan. 26, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2020

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The message is worthy, but this phoned-in follow-up doesn’t add anything significant.

THE WORLD NEEDS MORE PURPLE SCHOOLS

From the My Purple World series

A color-themed vision of what school should be like.

In what amounts to a rehash of The World Needs More Purple People (2020), Bell and Hart address adult as well as young readers to explain what “curious and kind you” can do to make school, or for that matter the universe, a better place. Again culminating in the vague but familiar “JUST. BE. YOU!” the program remains much the same—including asking questions both “universe-sized” (“Could you make a burrito larger than a garbage truck?”) and “smaller, people-sized” (i.e., personal), working hard to learn and make things, offering praise and encouragement, speaking up and out, laughing together, and listening to others. In the illustrations, light-skinned, blond-haired narrator Penny poses amid a busy, open-mouthed, diverse cast that includes a child wearing a hijab and one who uses a wheelchair. Wiseman opts to show fewer grown-ups here, but the children are the same as in the earlier book, and a scene showing two figures blowing chocolate milk out of their noses essentially recycles a visual joke from the previous outing. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

The message is worthy, but this phoned-in follow-up doesn’t add anything significant. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: June 21, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-593-43490-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: April 27, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2022

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The buoyant uplift seems a bit pre-packaged but spot-on nonetheless.

THE WORLD NEEDS MORE PURPLE PEOPLE

A monohued tally of positive character traits.

Purple is a “magic color,” affirm the authors (both actors, though Hart’s name recognition is nowhere near the level of Bell’s), and “purple people” are the sort who ask questions, laugh wholeheartedly, work hard, freely voice feelings and opinions, help those who might “lose” their own voices in the face of unkindness, and, in sum, can “JUST BE (the real) YOU.” Unlike the obsessive protagonist of Victoria Kann’s Pinkalicious franchise, being a purple person has “nothing to do with what you look like”—a point that Wiseman underscores with scenes of exuberantly posed cartoon figures (including versions of the authors) in casual North American attire but sporting a wide range of ages, skin hues, and body types. A crowded playground at the close (no social distancing here) displays all this wholesome behavior in action. Plenty of purple highlights, plus a plethora of broad smiles and wide-open mouths, crank up the visual energy—and if the earnest overall tone doesn’t snag the attention of young audiences, a grossly literal view of the young narrator and a grandparent “snot-out-our-nose laughing” should do the trick. (This book was reviewed digitally with 10.4-by-20.6-inch double-page spreads viewed at 22.2% of actual size.)

The buoyant uplift seems a bit pre-packaged but spot-on nonetheless. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: June 2, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-593-12196-2

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: June 3, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2020

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